August 18, 2016

Paulette Mullings Bradnock: What would make your summer internship meaningful?

Paulette Mullings Bradnock

Paulette Mullings Bradnock


Every summer, I love reading the advice that people share with students on how best to take advantage of what’s next. Not only is it fun to hear about lessons learned, but there’s almost always a valuable take-away. (Case in point: Our Chief Human Resources Officer Monique Herena recently shared a favorite piece of advice on LinkedIn – if you haven’t read it, check it out.)

To that end, I’d like to share some advice I recently gave to the students in our Summer Analyst Program in the U.S. – never be afraid to ask questions when you want more information. To this day, if I’m in meeting, I won’t hesitate to raise my hand and say, “Could you please explain more to me about….”  

I’ve practiced this ever since the earlier part of my career when I learned an ancient Chinese proverb that says, “He who asks question remains a fool for five minutes. He who does not ask, remains a fool forever.”  As an auditor I am not expected to know everything about a certain topic or area, so that gives me clearance to ask questions and really delve into a subject.  Over the course of my career, it has become second nature for me to ask lots of questions whenever I want clarity on a topic.  Moreover, I’ve observed that auditors who are not afraid to ask questions are usually effective and successful throughout their careers.

Asking questions is always a good idea, but it’s particularly important for interns, because on-the-job work experience is the best way to figure out whether a career – or company – is the right fit for you. And since many internships are fairly short, it’s that much more critical to not let the moment pass if you don’t understand something – after all, if you’re only going to be there a few more weeks, there may not be another opportunity to get the answer.

I’m a passionate advocate of internships, because I consider them a critical pipeline of talent to our company. We take internships seriously in Internal Audit, and my team has been working to creating an experience for our interns that’s challenging and rewarding.  

Because of the current regulatory environment the war for top Audit talent among financial organizations has increased; therefore, we must be able to engage and attract top talent before a student graduates. At BNY Mellon, we are giving our Audit interns the opportunity to work on key audits, assigning them to projects to provide solutions to enhance our department’s processes and methodology, providing opportunities for exposure to senior members of the management team, and finally soliciting feedback from each intern on how we can improve our program.

Our goal for the program is simple. At the end of the summer, we want our interns to be able to picture themselves working full-time in Audit at BNY Mellon – or have realized that they’d be a better fit somewhere else.  

When it comes down to it, internships are about meaningful experiences. In our next installment of our Summer Analyst Program content series, we asked our interns to share their most rewarding experience from their internship. Stay tuned for their answers!